Friday, October 12, 2018

When in doubt, wear something you love

Hi,

This week I had the good fortune to pick the kids up from school. Usually, this is the job of the Ever Lovely Mrs J, but she was indisposed in having a well deserved day out with Granny J. I popped to one of the shops on the way home as the kids needed a few things for their packed lunch.

On the way in, I spotted two young *ahem* 'scamps' (nee: chavs in the making) climbing up a bin and trying to haul themselves on top of the bus shelter. Said structure is mostly plastic and was wobbling precariously. For a moment, I did wonder about taking a snap and passing on to the school.

But, as the shelter continued to buckle, I heard my inner Dad voice say: Ah, I think we're about to witness a valuable life lesson. However, the Fates - depending on your point of view - did shine on the ne'er-do-wells and the roof did not give way. A lucky escape if you will, particularly as their parent turned up. I assume it was them, unless kids now get into cars that pip their horns loudly and yell out of the window: "Get off that bloody roof!".

Uber has really let itself down hasn't it? ;-)

Chams

Due to an early pass from home, I was early to Chameleons and unusually for me, I had my mind made up about my outfit. I was so early, that for a moment, I did wonder if I had the wrong night. It's not like that hasn't happened before. :-)

Due to 'working from home' in the afternoon, I had a spot of luck to try on a new skirt from Amazon. I've been after a non-black pencil skirt for a bit, and I thought I had fallen on the right item. Now, it's either my extra Lynn padding.... wait for it... or the extra Richard padding (non-removable), that means it didn't fit as I felt it should.

In fact, trying on two other skirts - including a favourite A line / fit & flare number - suggested that either I'm wearing the wrong size or the padding isn't working as planned. In honesty, this knocked my confidence a little. Still, when not 100%, say yes to the dress! :-) Evidence, to your right. Not only does the dress fit well, it has happy memories as it was a gift of yesteryear from the Ever Lovely Mrs J, bless her.

So, while I can gauge if a dress or trouser/top combo works (or not), I seem to have a temporary mojo malfunction in the skirt/top capacity. Maybe the next time TrendCo are in, I'll quiz their dress expert. That or plenty of Internet research and checking the sizes of said items is in order.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, October 05, 2018

Mist

Hi,

I'm not going to talk about the news today. Not because it isn't important, but knowing that if I do, it will only stoke the slow burn of rage within me. Yes, I believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty and I also believe that victims have a right to be heard, listened to, and taken seriously. Perhaps blindly, I am hopeful - or if I can admit this to myself - that we're in the last hurrah of powerful misogynists and that those not of their ilk will turn against them.

A trans-something-or-other person can dream, right?

___

I was listening to a colleague the other day about projects. Don't worry, this will be trans related. As usual, I have to go around the houses with a bit of background before getting to the point. Call it setting the scene, or, if you're more cynical, that I need to pad this sh** out to make room for a photo that'll momentarily distract us from the awful truth of life. ;-)

Where was I? Oh, yes: projects. The part that's relevant is that most work - be it a personal project, a work thing, or even the route to self-discovery - is unknown.

Sure, we have a rough idea of where things are going, and yes, there's plenty of people who can tell you the stages you'll go through.... or, more accurately, might go through.

I'm going to stress that word because no journey is ever the same. There's always some quirk of Fate, cast of the die, or personal circumstances that give life that little bit of an edge to keep you on your toes.

Yeah, we can plan out the steps of what we're going to do, but the further we get away from the now of it, the more that future mist settles. We can't know the future, only guess at it. Sure, some guesses are more informed that others, but we'll - and I'm going to do that bit to prove that there's folk about telling you what's going to happen :-) - not really know until we're almost on top of it.

What can we do about the unknown? Should that stop us from embarking on finding ourselves? I would say, no, do think of what might be. Do think on how things can be better and understand that you can't know it all before you set off. Take a few steps forward and see how things work out for you. I think there's no shame in changing direction and trying something new. Maybe it will feel like four steps back, three forward, and repeat, but you will close off the areas that aren't working for you. That's all cool. It's all part of the learning process.

Maybe you want to stand still for a bit and let things go by: that's okay too. Just, don't stand so still you become stuck. Keep looking forward, learn from the past, but don't be held back by it. With time - and learning - those mists will clear and - just maybe - you'll have a grand view to see how far you've come.

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, September 28, 2018

A kick in the head

Hi,

This week saw Wee Man and I enjoy the last episode of Bodyguard. For those of you yet to enjoy it, there'll be no spoilers. A big thumbs up for a quality BBC political thriller. Brilliant performances by the cast and great writing too.

It's no secret (as it's in the trailer) that one of the lead characters has PTSD. Now, in honesty, I don't know much about that, but I would say I do know a little about seeking help. We men are not always the best at getting help when we need it, and I'll include folks on the trans spectrum too. We may not be completely 'bloke', but for some of us that's most of our background and day-to-day culture too.

But, dare I say, getting help may be just what you need. Soldiering on regardless may feel stoic and Very Stiff Upper lip, but - and maybe shock news here - there are no prizes in doing so. Shame really because I think a gift of any sort (well, only the nice type!) is always welcome.

So how does this play into this being a trans blog? Well, I think that blokes - certainly those who are somewhere on the trans spectrum - may have had years of hiding who they are, putting on a mask to blend in, sneaking around like a spy, and that's before we even get to start talking about dysphoria.

Yes, mental health issues in the trans community - and possibly due to that hidden stress - are slightly higher than for non-trans folk. Not that either group is better or worse; we're just on slightly different paths. But, regardless of who you are or who you want to be: please don't put off asking for help. That might be from a friend, your family, your doctor, or other professional. It might not feel like talking about what's bugging you will help, but, and over time, it will.

If you don't fancy confiding in your GP or suchlike, a local trans group may well be a good place to start. They may certainly empathise with your situation and I think that no-one (at those with their heart in the right place) is out to recruit or convert you.

Hell, those of us attending; we're trans-something-or-other and we've probably realised that we'll be in it for the long haul. If you are? Well, that's up to you. Maybe you will, maybe you won't. But, if you come to the group, at least you can find out and maybe make some friends along the way. Perhaps, even slightly loopy ones in rose-printed dresses ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, September 21, 2018

Old friends

Hi,

Not so long ago I bumped into an old school friend. For sake of ease, I'll call him X, but he doesn't have a wheelchair or any psychic powers. Shame really, because the latter would no doubt have helped my exam results and solved the issue of having to work for a living. Mind you, all that spandex; it's not very forgiving is it? :-) Oh, we've gone all improv and surreal again. What *is* in this tea? :-)

So X and I were having a stroll through the leafy suburbs of Nottingham. It's been well over 30 years since we last spoke, so there was much to catch up over. What had happened to who, marriage, kids, potted life history, etc. For me, all very fascinating and X certainly hasn't lost his wry wit and comic timing. Much laughter was shared at how things have played out for two boys from the sticks, who are now older, broader, balder, not necessarily wiser, blokes in the city. :-)

A few personal details were shared on X's part. I'm not 100% sure. Maybe it's my interest in his life, a willingness to share on his part, the coaching course or the recent YouTube video I watched "These are not the droids you are looking for" has really paid off. I won't impart what was said because some things are indeed private.

On that note, I - and I know now wrongly - assumed he knew about me being trans. X was in the wide social circle back when I was outed. Given the years gone by and that I'm now far more at ease with things, I thought I'd broach the subject. I opened my smartphone and showed him a snap (see right). "Do you know who this is?"

He looked for a bit, stared into the distance, and then looked to me. "Sorry, not a clue. Should I?"

I said, It's me. 

X nodded, pulled a thoughtful face and said something along the lines that he had no idea. Not only of who was in the photo but that that was part of who I was. We had a chat about trans things, Chameleons, how things have changed for trans people, and he confessed he knew very little. We spoke a little about it and the conversation moved on to kids, how culture has changed, and had life played out as we had expected. X said he'd keep things under his hat, which is cool by me, but if he does say more, we move in very separate worlds these days.

In honesty: I had no idea how things would play out - as I said to Val the other day - but I'm very glad things have gone the way they have. I've a loving family, health is okay, I get out now & again, so these are all things to be grateful for.

So, is there - to use a modern term - a take away from all of this? If there is, perhaps we're not quite so recognisable as we think we are. Sure, the voice can often be a dead giveaway, but photos and at a distance, why we might not 'pass', we do pass as someone else. Maybe, when you're out and about, that's something to keep in mind. Maybe you can worry less and enjoy the moment more. You might, fingers crossed, find happy memories.

Take care,
Lynn


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Midweek meandering

Hi,

I was about to write 'another one of those rare midweek posts', but if it's another one, how can it be rare? Hmm. Ah well, best ponder that another time!

With a bit of planning and careful changes to the work diary, my schedule was free to collect both kids.... and have a day out. It's not that going to Chams isn't enough, I think it's more that by being out in the real world, I feel I'm not moving between one closet and another one. I'm now wondering why that feels important, but that may be a post for another time! :-)

After a few emails and some outfit deliberation, I was pretty much sorted. Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but when it comes to dressing, I've a few things I like to try and balance. Part of it is feeling good about how I look. Does this outfit work? Is this me? Are the clothes too tight? Is this too young or too old? What will other women be wearing?

All of those thoughts flutter about because, and perhaps like most people, I don't want to look a mess, and I want to blend in. Sure, I don't want to be beige and disappear, but equally, I just want to go about my day and enjoy the time out. I don't dress to be looked at or noticed; I dress because it makes me happy and it's a lot easier to try clothes & shoes on when you're presenting in the corresponding gender! :-)

The snap (right) doesn't quite show the pattern top, skinny rolled up jeans, and flat I decided on. Given the weather warning for strong wind, I opted for my older wig which is slightly less flyaway than the recut one (see last week).

I had toyed with the idea (hoped?) that I could manage a red skirt and low heels with the top, but having looked at the current street fashion, we're not yet into opaque season. Ah, maybe one day my pins will be smooth, but until then, I'll just have to work with what I've got.

As way of a change, I wasn't out on my own, as Val had kindly agreed to join me. Diane was scheduled too, but couldn't make it at the last minute. These things happen! So, it was up to the not-quite-so dynamic duo to wander about, talk, check out the shops, and not terrify the locals. ;-) Sadly, I was late because I had been somewhat ambitious in my ability to get changed and arrive. At least that gave Val a chance to stretch her legs after the journey down.

What did we get up to? Well, we had a look in the sales in New Look. A few maybes in the shoe sale, but nothing I really needed. In fact, I think that was probably the theme of the day. It wasn't so much a shopping trip to get things, but chatting and shopping rather than being at work. I did find a long skirt in a charity shop which was a pleasant surprise and I think with the right top and long boots, would be spot on for A/W.

Due to the call of Dad Duties I had to call time about 1.30, and while that cut the day in half, it wasn't a mad rush to get home and get changed. All in all, a very nice day out! Everything is packed away and having stuck with ballet pumps, my feet are thanking me.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, September 14, 2018

Scaffolding

Hi,

I think I now know what my blogging kryptonite is... or maybe even, are. Namely:

  • trying to write a post after a very tasty meal. All brain power has been redirected to my stomach. Hey, I'm a man, a dad, and over 40. Frankly, it's touch and go monotasking. :-P
  • failing to write down any semblance of a theme
  • the first gin & tonic in many months
  • Tiredness
  • Any combination of the above :-)
Hmm. I may just have to wing it. :-D

With the cooler weather now very much in place - and thank all that's fabulous! :-) - it was time to think about transitional dresses. Not quite summer, not quite autumn, but that lovely in-between time. Thinking back on a few of those words from that last line, it now seems obvious that this is my favourite time of year. Still, if the stereotype fits eh? :-)

Looking in the dress cupboard - and I'll confess that it's an 80/20 split between mine and the Ever Lovely Mrs J - I spotted a few numbers that jumped out. Taking out a monochrome number I'd not seen before, I asked: is this yours?

Mrs J raised an eyebrow and a smile: "No, you daft lump, you bought it in the sale."

Ah. Guilty as charged. In that went with a backup outfit, three pairs of shoes, and the rest of my industrial scaffolding that brings all the curves to the lard. ;-)

Talking of curves, the new corset is going to take a little breaking in. I was certainly sat up straight for most of the evening.

Tracey - part of the former organising dynamic duo - popped in. Not just to rub it in that she'd retired, the lucky lady, but also to help us out yet again. Due to some issues with the bank, the old account had been put on the dormancy list. However, it seems Tracey is not a lady who suffers administrative fools. Their loss and very much our gain. With a bit of luck, the old account will be merged with the new one. Fingers crossed!

Part of completing that meant sending over some evidence to prove who the group are. Luckily, last week's nerdery of setting up a VPN has paid off. With help from Nicole's smartphone for a WiFi hotspot, I managed to connect back home through t'Interwebz and send on the necessary documents. Go team!

After much catching up, time was against us, so it was off to tidy up, take photos, and de-princess back to the land of drab. Thanks to Val for the photo!

In other good news, I saw the lady at Boots who helped me with my brow make-up. She'd received her thank you from the area manager (never let good service go unrewarded, IMO), which is cool. I also asked if she'd be interested in helping set up a make-over night for the group. Again, fingers crossed!

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, September 07, 2018

Self-care

Hiya,

This week I had the good fortune to be asked to run some trans awareness training. Unusually the event was during the evening, so no long lunch was required. Also, and given the time, I checked with the Ever Lovely Mrs J that she was okay about holding the fort and with me going along. All was fine, which is very cool and the peck on my cheek for good luck put a spring in my step. I think there's nothing quite like acceptance to make you feel loved.

I'm not going to talk about the training or the venue. Maybe I would have posted s snap if I hadn't been in bloke mode, but you can't have it all ;-) Anyhoo, one of the numerous questions they asked was off I had any advice on coping mechanisms. The ones that came to mind where:
  • Light exercise - don't mope about at home, but get out into the open air, as the simple act of regular movement can be a good anti-depressant.
  • Thinking on what's going right - rather than thinking how big & hairy you are (or the opposite for F2M folk). Look at
  • Stealth Clothing - if we're talking underwear, for M2F folk, 'boy shorts' rather than boxer shorts and a feminine vest under your shirt might help. Equally for F2M people, no lacy knickers but a proper set of blokey kegs.
  • Scent - The right choice of deodorant can - at least for me - make me feel more 'me'.
  • Mindfulness - Enjoy the here and now when you can. Truly take the time to enjoy the place you are in, the good moods when they come, and the times when your body feels like yours. Dwell on those and don't worry about the future or the past. Live in the moment.
  • Distraction - If it's not going so well, do something to take your mind off things. Try a hobby that takes up your attention: baking, painting, writing, video games, etc. Things that fill your attention so the darker thoughts can't sneak in.
  • Toes - More one for MTF people, but I find that painting my toes makes me feel more me. Even if my toes aren't visible, the fact that I know they look nice, well, that can help me feel good about myself.

The mindfulness is something I've used to promote calm feelings. While walking I'll run a commentary on my head around what I experience: the shoes on my feet, the wind against my skin, the way the trees move, or the noise of passing traffic. I find it stops me cycling over the certain thoughts by not leaving them any room to sneak in.

I'm curious if the same or similar approach would help me appreciate getting ready to go out in Lynn mode, but that will have to wait until next week.

So, my question to you, is what strategies do you try to keep the blues, or even, dysphonia at bay?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 31, 2018

The balancing act

Hi,

I was sat in traffic the other day listening to the radio. By the way, and just for clarity, I do mean sat in a car waiting for the queue to start moving. I wasn't actually in the road with a radio next to me. That would be odd. Even for me. :-)

One of the interviewees mentioned that now well-loved phrase: putting on your own oxygen mask first. As the traffic began to move, so did the rusty gears in my head. :-)

Thinking about some of the parenting books I read - which, admittedly, is now some time ago - they also used that phrase. Looking after yourself before you can truly be able to look after others.

But, and here's the question, what happens when your needs create friction with the needs of others?

I'm being hypothetical here: does my partner need her hubby to be all man all of the time? Is it selfish for a person to ask for time to be themselves? Is it better than some hobbies/activities are solo? Is compromise always the answer or it is a case that one party should always have a red warning card if things go too far for them?

Is the answer to any of the above: well, it depends? :-)

I think it comes down to balance. A balance of each party's needs, where no one feels too put-upon or denied. Walking such a line won't always be easy. Juggling the needs of others and your own can be tricky at times. Perhaps, provided there's always some give and some take - and not all on one side - the balance can be maintained.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 24, 2018

Better with friends

Hi,

Another Thursday, another good night out.

A few weeks ago, I'd caught sight of a news item about how modern life is making many people lonely. Social media may connect us, but - IMHO - it's not the full experience of meeting someone. Text on a screen with no tone, sparkle of eyes, or knowing look. Not that the article was to demonise such technology, more draw light on how it affects us. Have you sat in a restaurant or similar, and seen couples or families all looking at their phones, rather than talking to each other?

A new top thanks to the
Ever Lovely Mrs J and a snap
by Val.
Now, don't get me wrong, I find using my smartphone to stay in touch with trans friends really helps. Just, not at the cost of not talking to people who are with me. Certainly, the Chameleons' forum helps with that, as does this blog and I'm always grateful for a comment. Not because I know folk are reading, but that they've something to say. Just because I'm not in Lynn mode all the time, it doesn't mean I can't be partially in the zone, if you will.

Going back to the article, as I read it, I was reminded of my family and also friends over at Nottingham Chameleons. Sure, we may meet only twice a month, but it is a community. There are those you are close to and those you know vaguely, but we do listen & talk to each other. There is, at least for me, a connection with people, with friends. People I care about and when I had the car accident, or a visit from the Black Dog, I know they care about me. Sure, some folk may come and go, but there's a core bunch of us who keep on coming, even if they're regular regulars or irregular regulars. :-)

That sense of belonging with people who get you, understand, and support is worth so much. Certainly, something to be looked after and very much appreciated.

Happy times!

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 17, 2018

Compliments

Hi,

Over on the Chameleons' forum, one of our members, Steph, posted a happy incident in which she'd complimented a stranger and had a very positive reaction. I think paying someone a sincere compliment is both great and yet, sometimes tricky.

I think it's tricky because well, there's A) a chance that you'll get it wrong and offend, and/or B) that the person may not take the compliment. In terms of the latter, there's the whole gig around what are they after?, are they hitting on me?, to I'm not used to strangers saying this!

That last one - people saying nice things - is something I struggle with. With family, well, most of the time it's good-natured teasing, so compliments are rarely directed when you're a dad. Not that I mind and it's not why we had kids. Children are, if you'll forgive a brief diversion, both the most challenging and at the same time rewarding thing you may ever do. Both kids know how to drive me up the wall, but equally, I wouldn't be without them; they really are an adventure. Mind you, maybe I'm saying that because they're out of the baby stage and not yet in full teenage rampage. Ask me again in a few years :-D

Where was I? Oh yeah, I guess there's a blurred line between saying thank you and a compliment. Take Little Miss or Wee Man doing something kind for someone or helping out, I'll say something like That was really good of you do to that. Thank you! Equally, the Ever Lovely Mrs J gets nice things said because, well, she's ever lovely. Not that any compliment isn't earned, if that makes sense.

So when folk do say something nice about me - how they like my shirt - or someone at Chams, I try not to shrug it off and say thank you instead. The shrugging off isn't that I don't appreciate nice words, it's that I'm struggling to accept them. Me not them, so to speak... but I do try!

As to saying nice things to others, while I'm not sure if it's right, I usually say something like "may I say your blah looks great/fantastic/brilliant" where blah is makeup, outfit, nails, shirt, etc. It's fairly generic, but it's legitimate and doesn't have that personal touch - unlike what the kids get - where there's some feedback linked to it.

So, yeah, I might say "May I say your new dress looks great", but I won't say "Your new dress looks great and makes you look slim." I guess I'm worried that someone may read something too personal into the latter and I only say such things to people I really know.

Has it worked?

So in general just saying something nice has pretty much always gone well. A few years back I was out with my family shopping in Boots. The lady who served me had the most beautiful nails. Classy, well painted, with a length and shape that suited her. I said, "I hope you don't mind me saying, but your mails look amazing." She said thanks, I paid and took the goods, with nothing more of it.

Heading back to Mrs J, she asked: "What did you say to the assistant? She's grinning like she's just won a prize." I took a quick peek over my shoulder and indeed Mrs J was spot on: said assistant looked most chuffed. I hope she enjoyed those words all day.

Likewise, if a colleague I like is sporting a fancy hairdo or is rocking a new shirt, I'll mention it politely. Just a question if it's recent and conversation rolls on from there. Not that I go around commenting on what people wear that would be rude. I have this blog to do that ;-) I am surprised on how people will happily talk about their new top or suchlike. Maybe it's people taking an interest, but you may feel differently.

Last week

Due to being away there was no time to post a snap from last week. Now we're back at home, there's a chance to show Val's photographic handiwork. Oh, to which I'm always grateful for, even if Muggins here isn't always the best subject :-D

In the spirit of trying something new, I'm giving my re-cut wig (thanks Steph!) another run. It does take me a while to get used to new things, but I think I'm getting there.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 10, 2018

Good things

Hi,

I think that there are times when it's all about the simple things in life. Take today for example, the cooler weather meant I could ditch the baggy trousers and sandals, returning to my preferred jeans and Converse trainers look. Yes, I am a Dad of a certain age, but team the previous with a fancy shirt and I'm feeling more myself. Funny how the right clothes help you out huh?

With all the sun of late, it seems it's an early blackberry season too. Now, other than feeling okay with how I look, if there's one pleasure of the summer.... okay, other than a nap in the sun or ice cream on a hot day... for me, it's got to be picking blackberries. I think the concentration and simple movement from patch to patch very relaxing; almost mediative in a way. Like losing yourself in painting, baking, or doing your makeup.

Funny thing is, I'm not really a fan of blackberries on their own. But, maybe as jam or in an apple pie, and, wooo, now we're talking. With the any of those, they're a dish to be shared and for me, that adds to the happiness.... even if my daughter ate half the stash ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 03, 2018

The Second Train

Hi,

Over in the Chameleons milabox, we recently received an email from a media company, TellyJuice, about a short documentary they'd made. Usually, media requests are for people to appear in a production, or take part in some reality TV production. The better ones - the education, the sensitive, etc - I post on the forum. The other stuff, welcome to /dev/null/ (Ed: for non-nerds, Lynn means the bin. Or t'bin if you're proper North :-) )

So, this video, which may appear below if I can get the web code right, was very different. I found it moving, deeply personal, sensitive, and beautifully filmed. While it brought forth a tear, I think that was bittersweet: I was happy that they'd made it. Happy that they had found themselves and found the courage and support to make the journey they needed. Maybe it's never too late to get another train, whatever your preferred destination.


The Second Train
from TellyJuice on Vimeo.

Take care,
Lynn

PS: I'm not sure how, but somehow I've snuck on to No 3 in the UK Trans Blogs.... which is nice ;-)


Friday, July 27, 2018

Being me once again

Hi,

This week, a blog post of two halves, or what a difference a night out makes ;-)

Pre

It's midweek while I write this and I'm beginning to feel the ache - because 'pain' doesn't quite nail it - of having been 'Richard' since late May. Sure, I've missed a meeting or two here and there, but mostly I get by. This time, there's been no dressing while working from home to help fill the gap, and with Wee Man and Little Miss now on summer break, that's not an option right now.

The ache, if you will, goes in fits and starts. I can feel my temper coming too quick, which I know is wrong. The excessive heat isn't helping either. It's not that I'm angry, it's more than I seem to find anger more readily than before. This is my problem and not my family's. They've not done anything wrong, so I'm doing what I can to keep 'the beast at bay' as it were. Plenty of distraction techniques (TV, gaming, reading makeup blogs, napping, getting out in the sunshine, etc), and I seem - oddly - to have rediscovered a taste for apples. That is helping me move to a lower weight, as that's crept up with the beer I've been drinking.

Ah, the joys of being trans-something-or-other eh? :-)

Post

Given my mood around the heat and a lack of dressing up, the Ever Lovely Mrs J asked me why didn't I get my things together and try to dress in cooler clothes. I'm hoping she meant dressing in less warm fabrics, rather than gah, you're such a square. :-)

This I did despite what felt like the hottest day of the summer, and - as per - Mrs J was right. I did find an answer to my problem. The community centre where Chams is based has air-con. There's a bar area - although no beer - which has A/C. Given that's fairly private and with an early pass from home, I cranked the temp down to a more pleasant 19C and started to get ready.

I never knew how cooling maxi skirts were! Well, you live and learn. Even with some shapewear on, I wasn't melting - always a bonus! :-) Chuck in a cute vest top, painted nails, and a smile - I was good to go. 

Steph from TrendCo had very kindly restyled the long red wig of mine into something shorter and (hopefully) a little more me. It really needs to be 'set' with a wash to help the new parting settle, but a few squirts of wig conditioner did the trick.

It felt great to be all of me again. Just talking with friends at the group and having some laughs. This night out - and respite from the heat - really pepped me up, and I feel a lot better.

Funny how a night out can set you straight, eh?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, July 20, 2018

The cure for the summer time blues?

Hi folks,

I've watched the little white box of the Blogger window on and off for one too many minutes. For someone sat so quietly, listening to the distant and infrequent sound of passing cars, you would think that something would come forth. But, not yet. The memories and hopes spin around my mind, fleeting in focus, and then fluttering away. A quick diversion to Pexels finds a suitable graphic and my imagination - or improv - kicks in.

Much like the long, slow, loops of a butterfly's drift, so too has this week been a case of gentle drips and rises.

The temperature continues to frustrate me, although I did get out on my bike a couple of times to stretch my legs. It's either that or I'll be needing to stretch my clothes. :-)

The dips have been around the feeling that the heavy heat will remain. As I posted last time, I don't really do hot weather, and chuck in a wig, shapewear, and the need to cover up Ol' Wookie pins.... well, it's hardly a recipe for summertime bliss.

But, not wanting to back into the dark woods (yay, CBT for the win!), I decided to try and do something about it. Hence, moderate exercise, time outside of the office, engaging with people, trying to create things, and, that old devil, a bit of material non-therapy.

Why that last term? Because I think I think I now know that retail therapy isn't a fix for me. Sure, the search for something 'just right' - feel free to think of a new riff on Goldilocks's story :-) - helps distract, but that's about it. I'm wary of using shopping as some type of medication or tool to hope me cope with what's lurking within.

But, this time I felt it was different. Ah, addicts, how they lie to themselves and others :-D Could I work around the problem? Did I have to do vest top and skinny jeans or tunic and leggings? Could I do a maxi dress? Well, I have *ahem* invested, so we'll see I guess. It's certainly long and loose enough. Maybe with the right wedges and a top....?

So, perhaps when the butterflies of wish and memory circle, I should let them flutter by. Maybe they will land and show me something. Maybe not being too hands on is a way to let the world - and I  - be, and, just maybe, I'll find a little corner of peace that is more just so than anything from a shop.

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, July 13, 2018

Moolah

Hi,

I think I can safely say that I'm not a hot weather worker. Come to think of it, too cold and I'm not exactly spritely either. Maybe I'm just not cut out for the office life? :-D Could it be my odd Celtic/Nordic genetic cocktail? I'm all in when it comes to a nap in the sun, but it's touch and go for anything more taxing than fetching me or the Ever Lovely Mrs J a cool drink. :-)

With the heat and the bright earning mornings, my sleep hasn't been what it usually is, so I'm kinda not in the zone when it comes to T stuff. So, another Chams meeting in bloke mode. Maybe to 'cure' the outward symptoms of being trans I just need to move somewhere hot! :-P Not that the internal mental processes switch off, they're just lurking unseen. Hopefully, they're not saving themselves up to pounce! :-)

___

Any more pies and I'll be this shape too.
Maybe without the slit at the top tho.
With summer being in full swing, numbers are down at Chams. This is to be expected, but it doesn't help when it comes to the finances. We need to hit just under 200 quid every month to cover costs and we're not making that sum as things stand. I had a brief chat with Val and Nicola about this, so I think we're going to have to increase the subs by a quid or a quid fifty. This may not be popular, but if we want to keep the venue we know and love, it'll have to happen. In fairness to the Centre we get our upstairs changing room for free, and very good rates on the hall plus bar area..... Not that it's a bar with drinks.

I'm not hearing anything back from the places I've sought funding from and I know last year's shortfall had eaten most if the funding gift we got.  Based on previous experience bring & buy sales make a little bit of difference, but not enough to keep the subs down. Maybe cake is the answer? But then I'll need a new wardrobe and I've too many nice things I like to wear. No, maybe not a cake sale :-)

Take care,
Lynn

PS: Apologies to Val for not using her photo from last week. Slight comms issue. :-)

Friday, July 06, 2018

Stories from others

Hi,

This time, a guest post from Val about her trip to Chams last week.

___

A woman's handbag is a repository of many things, as well as an accessory that must suit any outfit.  The last time I was out shopping, I selected a brown 'patchwork' shoulder bag. It is easy to keep it under your arm, maybe with a light jacket folded over the top, warding off unwanted attention from any thieves and leaving both hands free for the tasks of selecting and analysing your prospective purchases. But when it comes to Notchams on a Thursday night, I fall back to a favourite black handbag.

This weeks outing was touch and go, we had friends coming back to our house after a meeting – there would be tea, cakes and talk, but we needed to herd them discreetly out the door at 5.30 if we were to eat and I get into Val-mode. I warned Lynn by text that I might be late and to get some milk in.

5.30 went to 5.45, then 6pm, and finally they were away at quarter past.  My wife rustled up dinner while I showered, did the food justice, then back upstairs to finish converting him to her.

As you get older, the makeup routine I find gets a little quicker. It's not that I am getting better skilled, or more dexterous, rather than as my eyesight fades, I don't see the imperfections, as well as I, used to. It was a hot evening by UK standards, and a long soft stretchy dress in cobalt blue, combined with a contrasting belt in the hope of suggesting a narrower waist, blue necklace and earrings, and with the hair on and a pair of blue-strap wedges I'm ready to go.

Apart from the bag. I get the two together and start swapping things over – spare glasses, makeup bag, tissues – then add the envelope with last time's takings in for Lynn to pay in, and the float (a few £ coins as those without change always arrive first) then Val's purse is opened up, his jeans raided for coins and paper money, and I wonder how many times spouses and girlfriends have raided their man's trousers for a bit of extra cash like Val is now. Still not finished. I need the mobile, my Bluetooth earpiece for driving, car keys and my camera for those vital 'how well did the outfit work?' photos at the end of the evening.

Then the phone rings, and I am stuck explaining what went on in the meeting for the 55th time, the clock is ticking and it now after 7.20. Finally, it's out the door into the car and away and a dash down the M1. It's a nice relaxed evening. Lynn has let the side down by staying in him-mode, but in a sense, she's here with the same distinctive laugh, just less hair, curves and fashion-sense.

When it's time to head home there's no desire to go haring back up the motorway. It's about midnight, the roads are quiet and I'm at that stage when I know it's nearly over but I want time to stand still. I pick the B roads back, up into the hills of Derbyshire. Not a straight line home but a wandering route through sleeping villages and a stop in a lay-by where I can look up at the stars and feel the cool night air blowing the cobalt blue material around my bare legs. Oh, that this sensation of comfort and calm could continue forever.

But it can't and I've a couple of miles to go on a very minor road, some nights where you'll see the occasional badger or fox going about their business in the headlights. As I drop down the hill into the valley, I reach into my handbag with my left hand to dig out the house keys, for my wife will have been in bed for over an hour and the lights will be off so as not to illuminate the strange woman at the door.

My hand continues to rummage. My keys live together attached to a sheep mascot, presented to me by a good trans friend knowing my penchant for Shaun the Sheep. It is hard not to find it in my handbag, but tonight my fingers scavenge in vain. The zip pocket is also empty – I usually raid his card holder to put in there – not just for the VISA but the AA card in case the car breaks down and I must do my damsel-in-distress act, after all, I am not turning the cobalt blue into greasy black when a man can come and fix it for me. But tonight, I realise, for the first time after 17 years of Val being out and about, I have left Sian and the house-keys in the other bag.  Nothing for it, ring the phone and get her out of bed to open the front door. Keep calm, apologise profusely: no point in turning the cobalt blue into a nightie and waiting for morning.

The man in me ponders a handbag checklist, pasted to the inside of the cupboard door, consulted at every outing to ensure that it is never forgotten again. But right now I'm Val, and here's to the next 17 years.

___

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, June 29, 2018

What if, what if, what if?

Hi,

With the hot weather, the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I will sometimes take an early walk. Part of me worries that the kids will look in the cupboards. Or, more specifically, the cupboard upstairs where I keep all my Lynn things.

Not the skirts, tops, dresses, and whathaveyou that are mixed in with my bloke things. Because, and let's face it, they could be Mrs J's (although we have a different taste in clothes). No, it's the wigs, the box of tights, shapewear, and heels that their mum has never worn.

When I paint my toes and it's a few days before I can remove the evidence, what if someone sees?

When I go to Chams or give a talk, what if I meet someone I know?

What if this heatwave continues? How do I balance 100% bloke with needing to express all sides of me?

What if someone sees me when I'm browsing through cosmetics or buying a new top?

What if, what if, what if.....

What if I'd never taken a step outside? What if I'd never been honest with Mrs J? What if I'd never dared start this blog or if I'd not gone to Chameleons?

I'd be poorer for the lack of all that. Poorer for not growing and learning. Finding that it's not just okay to be trans, but to understand I get a slightly different view of the world. Not better or worse, just different.

What if, that makes it all okay?

What if, I can understand that much in life isn't forever, but moments to be ignored or enjoyed. The bad and the good.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, June 22, 2018

Stillness

Hi,

This week on our development course - that's helping others develop, not us (well sorta) - we had a visit from a counsellor. She specialised in getting people to get outside and to join her on walks in the countryside.

As an icebreaker, she asked us to think of our preferred natural habitat. Before you think it, it wasn't swanning about en femme someplace :-) I've said this a few times before on this blog, but my go-to place for tranquillity - either in my head or in the real world - is woodland.

Ideally old woods, with huge trees that reach up to the sky and whose branches splay out to cover the sky that beautiful mix of green.

I was born out in the sticks and the first house that the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I bought, well, it was very much in the city. Yeah, there were a few hedges and a few grass lawns, but that was it. If I leaned close to the window, I could just make out the treetops from a distant park. I think I was surprised at just how much I missed the countryside.

To stand in woodland and see those colours; to hear birdsong; to feel the breeze on my skin; to smell either the soft scent of pine or the rich dampness of leaves; to me, that's to let go. Not to think, but just to witness and let it all drift by. Those moments of peace, I think, are to be treasured.

So now, well, we're lucky that we live out in the countryside once again. Woods aren't far and once the rush hour has gone, the view over the fields is quiet. It feels good to be out in nature.

What about you dear reader, where's your place in nature? Woods, sea, lakes, moors, caves, cliffs, fields, deserts?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, June 15, 2018

When the wind blows

Hi,

Back in the mists of time when I started work but did not yet have a car, I cycled to work. Rain or shine, that was me. The only weather that really bugged me was wind. Oddly, I became quite perceptive of the breeze given its effect on my ride to and from home.

So it seems that's the case now I go out. It's not much of an issue when going to Chams as we're inside. Instead, a good breeze merely keeps the place slightly cooler. However, if you're talking in the real world, I find it affects what I wear (no floaty skirts) or where I go (wig in disarray).

Like anyone sporting a dress, there is the risk of a Monroe moment. By that, I don't mean possibly dating a famous politician or drying your undies using the subway vent. No, it's that risk that a quick gust of wind suddenly raises one's hemline to heights no self-respecting lady (part-time or otherwise) would enjoy.

Many years ago I'd gone to a trans-friendly pub in Derby. This was back in the day when Wee Man would be tucked up in bed, so no worries about coming home en femme. Out I stepped into the night and whoosh, in blew the wind and my wrap dress did it's best parachute impression by raising itself rapidly skyward. Luckily for my modesty and the sanity of everyone, no one was about. Not that it's a life lesson I've forgotten.

Now, when the wind blows, I'm a little wiser to its tricks and avoid passing directly by narrow alleys or - if it's really going for it - staying inside. One has standard to keep.... and I don't want to be chasing my wig down the street either. In these shoes? C'mon! :-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, June 08, 2018

Disquiet

Hi,

That's another working week in the bag. Hello, weekend! :-)

Earlier in the week, a friend recently invited me to a meditation class he was running and I made the effort to go. I'm no guru (no pun intended) but I'm finding it useful, even if I'm not quite as relaxed as I probably could be during each session. Still, at least I'm not nodding off or snoring. Oh, the shame! :-D

So I'm sat knelt on a cushion with my eyes shut. I drift off and just listen to the sounds from outside: birdsong, the wind, and the ripple of water nearby. All quite good and helpful.

As I start to relax more my inner negative voice kicks in and comments about my posture, my weight, that I'm slacking when I could be working, etc. Much as I don't go around saying "I'm brilliant, me", how come there's this voice of negativity running its own troll feed in my head?

I'mm aware I've put some weight on and I'm doing something about it. Equally, I know I'm a tallish chap in his mid-40s, so I'm not sure why pointing out my all to present blokiness right now is useful. Maybe the negativity troll and dysphoria dragon can have a ruck? ;-) Who knows!

As the unwanted grumbling rolled on, I decided to take the tutor's advice and gently bat those thoughts to one side. Sometimes that worked, sometimes it didn't, but, I left feeling more relaxed than when I went in.

Happy days.

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, June 01, 2018

Time to move on?

Hi,

I don't know about you dear reader, but for me, there's nothing quite like a week with your family to help set some perspective.

Where we live is quite the rural idyll and by quirks of geography, we escape much of the rougher weather. With that in mind, the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I have had many dog walks together. Wee Man has had space and time to relax and play his guitar while we're out. Little Miss has entertained herself with gaming or reading. We've been out on day trips and had good times together, so it's been a very pleasant break.

I, perhaps foolishly, checked my work email to remove some of the crap before I go back. There's nothing on fire nor stuff I'll cop for on my return. Yet, I look at the messages and think, does any of this actually matter? There seems to be a lot of busy work and running around, but little to show for it.

Take for example the week before I went. I found out that two of the projects I'd worked on had been canned. Not that I mind; binning them was the right thing to do. My question would be why did we start in the first place? It seems such ideas start from the top and go unchallenged. They creep forward like a glacier, driving things out of the way, trading things within, before grinding slowly to a halt when the momentum runs out.

If I have an *ahem* Bright Idea, the Ever Lovely Mrs J and/or the kids will poke at it and we'll discuss things. If, after some reflection, it's deemed not to be right, we don't plough on regardless. We may try things for a while, but there are few occasions where we refuse to turn back. Not that we're quitters, moreover I think we know when to change our plans.

Maybe it's the return to work blues talking, or maybe it's time for a new scene. I look out of the window and see the beauty of the trees, rolling hills, and fields....

I don't miss the office. In fact, if anything, I would rather spend more time here than sat at a desk. The trick, if you will, is to find something that pays the bills and interests me. I can find the former or the latter; but not both. Gah! Money, money, money.... Still, only a few more decades until retirement eh? ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, May 25, 2018

A series of fortunate events

Hi,

It's been a bit of an iffy week if I'm being honest. A right old riot of negative emotions chucked into the tumble dryer and given a long spin. At least, that's how it felt. I should stress - and we may come back to that word -that it wasn't anything serious. It was, what I like to call, some Work Toss. Things that really don't matter in the big picture, but that somehow get under your skin.

I guess, and maybe like a lot of folk, I don't like doing things I'm clueless about. Yes, I'll try leaving my comfort zone, but heading into something I just don't get (like maths or the offside rule) really isn't my bag. Plus I may be working with a colleague who can best be described as an utter tool... and that's his good points. He is to manners and modesty what bigots are to inclusivity ;-) So yeah, not exactly brimming with excitement for this project. Add in a dash of matrix management and egos - and I don't mean mine - and, yeah, a wiser person would retreat to a safe distance and enjoy the fireworks. That, however, is not an option for me. Oh well! :-D

Thing was, all the stress signs were kicking off. Distracting myself with other work, nerves, feeling panicked, withdrawing from colleagues, and being a bit grumpy at home. I felt tired even though I was sleeping enough, and in the morning, well, I was not good company. That's just not right, IMHO. The Ever Lovely Mrs J, Wee Man, and Little Miss all deserve better, so I did try to keep my cool. Thing was, I had wrongly assigned this to trans stuff because it can manifest like that too. As Diane said at Chameleons last night, it's easy to blame being trans when things aren't right upstairs.  But, I shall put on my big girl pants (figuratively speaking), paint on a smile, and give it go.

So, ignoring the negative, what's been good about this week? As things cooled off a little in the for Thursday, I was in a better mood. I also managed to finally find on some white leggings in tall! Result! It's only been a two year search :-) Plus, the Ever Lovely Mrs J let me borrow a summer tunic and fielded the nippers so I had an early pass out. Chuck all that in with some time between travelling to appointments, and I had chance to paint my toes. All things considered, I felt rather blessed.

Chams went well with a number of new folk popping in and a return of some recent visitors. Good to know they're coming back. Due to that early doors pass from the Ever Lovely Mrs J, I was early arriving and I got ready pretty quickly too. I had packed way too many shoes though! A pair of heeled sandals, two sets of flats, and two sets of wedges. Yeah, I wasn't sure about the weather, so I'd hedged my bets!

But, a quick try on was done and the wedges had it. I was downstairs in record time (for me), hence the clock photo. Oh, there was also a sign for a weight loss group and the line about there are no strangers made me chuckle. Yeah, we're pretty strange for some ;-) The bit about friends though, that's more like it. With the evening sun being out, Val and I nipped out for a quick photo outside. I know, no stairs, right? Shocker! :-)

I had a long chat with an older chap about his life through the 60s. I guess it shows how far we've come compared to those dark days of secrecy for survival. His carer had accompanied him, so she asked some fascinating questions about what it was to be trans. As someone who's not trans, hearing her take on the situation was very interesting.

So, remember I mentioned stress earlier on? I had the good fortune to attend a lecture on that subject. When I can go through my notes I may use some of the ideas as posts later on. But, today's takeaway -to use a modern term - would be to make a note of three things that have gone well for you each day.

By either dumb luck or serendipity, I guess blogging helps me think around that. Sure, sometimes things don't always go brilliantly, and I write about what's bugging me. Thing is, by looking back at photos, or thinking about what we talked and laughed about, it's not hard to find twinkles of gold amidst the muck and mire.

Just looking above there's my family, laughter at home, a walk through sunlit trees at work, pretty nails, feeling good in a summer outfit, and sharing honest conversation with friends. Oh, and I'm off for a week too. Here's to a week of taking it easy.

Happy days!

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, May 18, 2018

Work, doubt, and clothing confidence

Hi,

Another working week out of the way and we're into the weekend! It's been an odd one for me given the amount of time out of the office. I've been working, just not at my desk. Thing is, there's this little twinge of guilt that I just can't seem to shake. The feeling that if I'm travelling from A to B, I'm not actually doing something.

I get this sometimes when I'm working outside of the office. Maybe I'm coaching someone, or (hopefully) helping a team of people organise a project, or train them in the Tech Du Jour. The worry, if I had to give it a name, comes around like a lazy comet. I look at the thought, and it spins back out again on that long orbit.

Maybe I've got a hang-up from a few years of a presenteeism boss, and I'm still under that shadow more than I care to admit.

That or if I'm enjoying what I do, there's that odd quirk that if I'm having fun, am I working? Truth is, if I feel useful, have fun, and be out and about, that's a bucket load of win for me.

As to the work guilt, anyone else with this or is this another quirk of the Jones' psyche? As Ron said: "mental, that one." ;-)

___

BTW, in an effort not to feel quite so 'drab', I've taken to wearing fancy shirts. Nothing too femme, if that can be said about a man's shirt, but certainly bold, bright, or (hopefully) tastefully patterned. It seems there are two shirts in my collection that cause commentary from female colleagues (although younger male staff sometimes ask).

One lady spoke about her wish to wear brighter items but said she lacked the confidence to wear them. She looked very professional, BTW, and we had a brief chat about clothes and I found what she had to say interesting. She spoke about her dilemma of dressing so she felt confident versus wanting to look smart, but not dull.

I think I get what she means about the confidence thing. I have to be wearing something that feels 'me', otherwise my confidence isn't quite there. It's not that it's a fragile thing, gone like a balloon in the wind, but more like the right look makes me feel right. Stuffed in a suit doesn't work for me as a bloke, yet ironically, in Lynn mode, I'd happily wear more work orientated outfits and feel both smart and confident. Weird huh?

On a partly related note, I've been through a few shops looking for either white leggings (well, it is summer) and a maxi skirt in tall. I've not found the former, and the latter seems to be out of stock. Either I'm looking in the wrong place, or I'm just way too fussy. Actually, don't answer that. ;-) Still, a lunchtime perusing the shops was good for the soul, if not the wallet.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, May 11, 2018

Choosing

Hi,

If you're a blogger do you find that even if you prep something to write about, you just can't seem to connect with it later on?

Old Research

So it was that I had an idea to write about a rather old research paper that I'd found: The Gender Variant Phenomenon. I popped it on the Chameleons Forum and there was a bit of a discussion about it. Not from a naysaying point of view, but more that it connected with a lot of people. I've since done a bit more Googling on it and it does data from 2001.

I'm not here to knock the research and I'm wary that just because I've found something that hits the old 'bias confirmation' buttons, is it true? I mean, just look at the modern print media at the mo. I mean, is anyone reporting the truth, or is it all through a filter of what sells to a particular political class? Has it always been thus, but now we're more wise to it? Ah, questions, questions.

Where was I? Oh aye, bias. :-)

So the bit that leapt out at me was Anne's phrase Gender Expression Deprivation Anxiety Disorder. Now, this next segment are my words, not Anne's, so if I'm horribly wrong here, please don't flame me :-). To me, at least, the idea behind GEDAD is that not expressing who you are, is what drives you nuts.

Okay, so I'm trans-something-or-other and ignoring labels, the concept of Lynn/Richard is just a name that match a presentation that I give. I dial up the 'Richard' behaviour in some circles (work/home) so people don't find out I'm somewhere on the gender spectrum, rather than your typical white cisgender male. I guess, what Anne may be suggesting, is that what gets to me isn't that I'm trans; I'm okay with that. The thorn, if you will, is that I don't present as I'd like to at certain times.

For some trans folk, I guess that must be all the time. For part-timers - like me - it's less, but when I find I don't have the option, that's when it stings a bit. Are we moving into a discussion about choice? Some may say that being trans is a choice, and I'd say I don't agree. If your birth sex and brain sex match - please excuse the clumsy phrasing - I guess that makes you cisgender. For me, I don't quite feel I'm a bloke, and I wouldn't same I'm a woman either; I'm somewhere in between. So much so, that I can't bottle it up and when I've tried, that leads me to a bad place.

Instead, I think the choice thing comes in as I don't push hard enough at home/work to be as I wish; which is to be able to be male or female in appearance as I felt that day. I find it a bit funny that I'm saying I don't really know which gender I'd present as. But, wry looks aside, I think it's because I'm just me, and the current binary choices of M/F aren't quite enough some of the time.

Thing is, I'm just not brave enough to push for that. So there, after much waffle is the concept of choice. I'm choosing not to push for the sake of a quiet life. It's not a bad life by a long stretch, but wouldn't it be nice if.... :-)

Chams

Luckily the Bank Holiday heatwave had run its course and the idea of dressing a little more fabulously was back on the cards. I had a few tops that had come my way as the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I had been having a serious chuck out at home. It was a case of playing Yes, No, Maybe with each item. Once the Yes stack was packed away, we were on to the Sudden Death round. Cue two bags going to the local charity shop, two tops for me, and some shirts to our transmen at Chams. What's not to like? :-)

I was a quiet night at Chams but a good one. Sometimes having less of us there means we have chance to talk more as a group. I like both busy or quiet nights, neither is better, they're just different. It was great to catch up with folk and listen to what they'd been up to. As we meet only twice a month, time goes quickly in the real world, so there's usually lots to talk about.

As with every night, we end with a quick photo shoot on the stairs. Maybe I'll get my act together one day and sort out the frame and background. It certainly makes for better lighting, but time is against us, so we often just use the space midway up the stairs!

Still, I was pleased with my outfit and make-up attempt. Unusually I didn't have an outfit panic when things didn't quite work. Yay for contentment eh? There was even time for a quick trio shot of Val, Steph, and yours truly.

We don't often do group shots because - and understandably so - people can be very concerned about their privacy. I get that, and yet not having semi-regular photos of the group, well, we miss people as they come and go from the group. Still, getting a snap with everyone looking and being happy with the end result is quite the art. If you've any tips on that, do let me know :-D

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, May 04, 2018

The Good Day

Hi,

I don't know if the planets aligned or it was just a series of very fortunate events, but today was completely spot on. Earlier the Ever Lovely Mrs J had suggested we both take a day off together. Like I need much encouragement to take a day off! :-) As Jimmy Cliff crooned through his exit from the dark, I thought just how good things had gone.

We dropped the kids off at their respective schools and headed into town together. There was much laughter, bright sunshine, and that cheery upbeat mood you get when enjoying time off. Mrs J had her hair done (looks fab, BTW), I had a run back to the car (who forgot the wallet?), we visited a few shops, and, of course, had some lunch together.

All of the above - sans haircut (as I don't have much) - were spent together and much fun was had. We chuckled at some of the wilder outfits in some shops and probably had a bit too much cake in the afternoon. Oh well!

Over lunch, we chatted openly about various things. The kids, her work, makeup, and what we might do for a holiday.

The makeup chat was brief but one of those moments where there's no judgement, just conversation between two people. Perhaps traditionally, that's not somewhere a man - or husband - should go, but being out to Mrs J, we can go there and it's no big thing. As she said to me once, at least it's not sport. :-)

What we didn't talk about is the collapse of a friend's marriage. It seems both parties have had enough of each other. The thing was, we could see it coming and then playing out like the obligatory slow car crash. Not through infidelity, trans stuff, drugs, or any of that. Just good old-fashioned love into loathing. L & J were pretty well off and never seemed to worry about money. Not that that suggests success or happiness; just a big bank balance. Perhaps others looked in at the material wealth and thought all was good. It wasn't.

I had, perhaps somewhat egocentrically, taken it in and worried if one day we may go that way. There are times when I don't feel like I'm a proper husband. You know, manly, buff, DIYey, hairy in the right places, and more interested in bloke stuff than what's pretty and being able to accessorise.... Mind you, if anyone knows if there is a typical bloke anymore, answers on a postcard to the usual address. As an outsider looking in, masculinity seems to be as varied and under reinvention as much as being trans is. So many labels, so little interest ;-)

As we got into the car, Mrs J squeezed my hand and gave me a smile. "We're not like L & J," she said. I guess we may be yet another middle-class couple keeping a secret (YAMCKAS? :-) ), but we get by. Conversation, compromise, and humour; they help keep us together. Oh, and a love of dogs and long walks.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, April 27, 2018

Inspired

Hi,

I heard recently that my line manager from job long since left, died recently. We'll call him W for now, although that's not his real name. Even now, I'm a bit touchy about naming people specifically, but hey-ho. It's not like you know the city, my bloke name, where I work, or what I do. Plus, there's a photo here and there to truly out me.... but, moving on. :-)

So W was not - by his own admission - someone with an IT background. He said to me that he could read people and provided I was straight with him, he'd do the same. He wasn't a politician, but he was diplomatic. He wasn't technical, but he got projects done right. He wasn't loud or aggressive, yet he had respect. He wasn't soft, but he was caring.

In the last few months, when I've been working on my coaching course, I found myself talking about him and rolling out stories of how he handled things and how that made me feel. Sure, we had our ups and downs as you would in all relationships. But, in the main, he was.... well, inspiring, if I'm honest. W's still the yardstick to which I measure other managers.

Often, I lack the terminology to express why something worked. It's only now that I'm working through the coaching course that I'm seeing what - or so I assume - W did naturally. He did a bit of paperwork, sure, but he led us as a team. He didn't manage and there's a huge difference. W was there to talk to and while we didn't agree on everything, he seemed supportive, honest, and, if I can take my ego out of the loop, fair.

I would describe W as a top bloke. I think a lot of companies should employ people like W. He'd make the right kind of difference.
___

Trying something a
bit more springtime
Again, spiralling from one topic to another, the idea of making a difference came around - better than the comet of self-doubt, mind :-) - as we had three different sets of parents get in touch with the group. They want to know what they can do to support their child who's come out to them as trans.

I think it must take a lot of guts for a kid to do this. I also think it takes a brave parent to not only search out a trans group, but to walk into the place when you don't know anyone and don't know what to expect. Just who are these trans people? What will they say to me? How will they look? Will they be friendly or defensive?

How do you prepare for that meeting as a parent? What thoughts are going through a non-trans person's head as they walk in the room and see us Maybe I should ask, but you know how it is; you don't want to appear rude, right? I'm not so bothered if they think my outfit isn't quite right, it's more that I'd hate them to be weirded out. Not that we have any weirdos at Chams [gibber gibber] :-)

I start off by asking how we can help and letting them talk. They have a lot of questions, and, like employers who come to us for help; they want to know they're not making a complete hash of it.

Pro tip: if you're listening to your kid, not judging them, taking them seriously, and letting them grow in a supporting and loving environment; you're doing a top job already. Keep it up. Yes, it's tough and yes, it may feel difficult, but you'll make it.

BTW, did you miss the note handed out when you left the hospital? Yeah, we did too. Apparently, it says there are no rules and everyone's winging it. That would have been good to know when we had Wee Man and Little Miss. I spent months feeling like an imposter. But, hey, improv FTW. :-)

So, yeah, I'm beginning to think we may need to put some more information up for parents if we can. Not 100% sure what yet, but if you have any ideas, the comments box awaits.

Going back to my post about W, I find these parents who support and love their kid for who they are; that, to me, is fantastic. Maybe, like W, these folk will make a huge difference and not know it. Each time a trans kid is loved and accepted by their parents, that's another well-adjusted soul who doesn't need help in later life. That can't be a bad thing, can it?

Take care,
Lynn

PS: Get well soon, Val.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Trouser trouble

Hi,

The quest for a good pair of trousers continues. Buying clothes when you've two wardrobes is an odd experience.

What I mean is, when it comes to bloke's troos, there's a few basic rules: long enough, wide enough, and do they suit? If you're young and hip you don't want dad jeans, and if you're a dad, you don't want dad trousers either. ;-) Well, at least not obviously.

With women's trousers, there's a myriad of styles, sizes, and lengths, that seem to come and go so quickly. The size thing is particularly troublesome. From Shop A, the 16s were the right length, but just the wrong side of tight on my waist. The size 18 pair from Shop B was too long (despite being cropped) and even with a belt, too wide. Sigh.... :-)

As a simple brained trans-something-or-other, I think I get why women take so much time shopping. Sure, some may like it, some may hate it, but whichever it is, it ain't easy!

So no, I don't complain when the Ever Lovely Mrs J takes umpteen minutes in the charging room and comes out empty handed.

Oh, and I think I get why leggings are so popular :-D

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, April 13, 2018

Helping in little ways

Hi,

After a week or two of zero trans related activity, two things come along at once. If it helps, feel free to imagine a pair of Clapham omnibus rolling in. Tickets ready? Ding ding! :-)

Bus 1

Earlier in the week, it was time for a training event in Nottingham. I'd arranged it some time ago and managed to squeeze it in my lunch hour. I try not to swing the lead too much when I'm at work. I may not have the best record for timekeeping, but I like to think I put my all in when I'm in. Well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it! ;-)

I called just before setting off to make sure everything was still on. The lady who'd requested the training - we'll call her 'B' - was a little surprised when I introduced myself as Richard. "We were expecting, Lynn. Is she not coming?" Cue a quick apology around names, given that mostly I'm Richard, except when I'm not. That seemed to do the trick and it was all systems go.

I've ditched the PowerPoint slides after the last event seemed to go very well just using a whiteboard and we talked through a few key ideas. This worked for this team too and they asked some great questions. Given the coaching training at work, I'm trying to make this much more reflective and get the teams' view on things, rather than me stand there and talk. I think it's the answers they give and the conclusions they arrive at that add the value. At least, I hope so.

For a brief moment, my guard was completely down and I forgot I was in Richard mode if that makes sense. Less of the feeling slightly not quite dressed appropriately. Maybe it was because the group (all women) were so welcoming, that it happened. I sort of snapped back (mentally) and my brain played through the idea of me sat there as Lynn. Perhaps going back to B's original comment on the phone. Not that that was on the cards, not on a workday and not with the kids off for school.

They seemed satisfied with the group discussion and as I left, I remembered a few things I didn't cover. Still, you can't cover everything, and maybe these items were relevant. I might not have made the Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), but in my own little way, I'm trying. Wittier people may say 'very' before that, but they'll not be on my Xmas card list. ;-)

Bus 2

After that just-a-bit-too-long-between-meetings gap was over, it was time for Chameleons. I was torn between jeans and a pretty top, or dress and heels. Given the weather, I opted for the dress and a cardie (see right).

Now, I've been using a pop-sock as a wig cap for a while, so I thought it was best to buy the proper thing and try that. I keep my natural hair pretty short, so come the end of the evening, I tend to have the telltale lines on my scalp due to the wig.

I unwrapped and carefully pulled on said wig cap. So far, so good. Hair combed, wig on, and downstairs I went. I forget who I was talking to, but I could feel the cap begin to slide off my head and retreat under my wig! Luckily, the conversation came to a natural close as the other party popped out for a brew. As I stood up, I felt the cap scurry over my scalp and ball up under my wig at the top of my head. Whoops! I headed off to the bathroom to adjust. Luckily I did not look like I was sporting a 60s do / Mars Attacks stylee. :-)

I had a good chat with the regulars, although poor Val was ill, so she had to duck out early (get well soon, Mrs!). I did have a long-ish talk with a new member and she was kind enough to say some very nice things about the group. I hope the others have read that too, because I think that really shows we can make a difference.

Reasons to be cheerful, eh?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, April 06, 2018

Freedom in movement

Hi,

I was in a cafe the other day and one of my favourite pop songs came on. For a moment I was - as the lyric goes - lost in music. While I don't listen to as much new stuff as I used to, music is still something that moves me.

The right tune summons memories long thought lost and there are times when I've found myself deeply moved by certain lyrics. Yeah, this jaded heart of mine still beats ;-) But, for me at least, the dance floor is where I find freedom. I do know I need to 'dial it down' a bit when in Richard mode, but on a trans night out, there's no such bar.

On those rare nights out - either at Chams, or rarely still, in the real world - I'm free to move as I want. The music takes me away and if only for a night, nothing else matters except the moment to express myself in the joy of being able to dance freely.

Happy memories eh? So is this true for you? Is there a special number that you can't keep your feet still to?

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, March 30, 2018

Greener grass

Hi,

Ah, the long Easter weekend is upon us. Let's hear it for bank holiday breaks and two weeks off with the kids. Well, not that I'm off for two weeks; chance would be a fine thing ;-)

Antisocial Media

It's been an odd week in that last Friday I took the decision to remove Facebook from my smartphone. The allegations around data use by various third parties have been rumbling for a while, but I think it was that Friday when something finally clicked in my head. Wittier folk may like to think that someone clicked the 'dislike' button, but I'm not sure I've the energy for that gag. ;-)

So, why the change? Now, I'm a social creature at heart and I do like to share stuff. While that may be true, I'm picky on who I'll 'friend' in social media terms. My rule of thumb is actually knowing you from home, work, social, online, or suchlike. Perhaps understandably, I took to social media like the proverbial. No, the other proverbial; not the one about something flying from a greased shovel. :-D

That Friday gone, I asked myself: what am I getting out of this? Sure, I get to see who is up to what, maybe post some funny pictures, or share a headline...

But, why? To think I have a voice? Well, I get 'likes' for photos/memes that amuse. Do I need validation around my photos through a cloud of hearts, likes, and/or wows? I have found myself looking for them, and now I wonder if that's healthy. Also, I may draw comments from things that have happened. Yet many of the folk who do comment, I see day to day. Why put a screen between us? Why not share the face to face conversation instead?

Those who have moved on, do I need to maintain that relationship? *Is* there a relationship of sorts? For some, the answer is no, there are a handful who are - to paraphrase Red Dwarf's Arnold J Rimmer  - people I met along the way. BTW, none of you reading this who are also Facebook folk are on that list oddly (Ed: backtrack, warp factor nine!) But, for whatever reason, I've 'friended' people there and much as I enjoy their virtual company, there are people close to me that I'm not so engaged with. There is, after all, only so much time in the day.

So, while I've not left Facebook yet, I'm certainly not checking it. Indeed, as time as gone on, I'm wondering if I can bring myself to walk away and delete it all. I've still got this blog, there's the Chameleons forum, and email of course.

More questions

Maybe I'm in a questioning mood because I both bought and took back some new trousers within about 24 hours. Said items are some ankle grazer slim leg style ones. Thing is, the size I picked was a little snug. I guess I ain't as slim as I think when all the curves go on. :-)

As I wondered about risking another size up and then hoping that they'd not be too big, I stopped to think. Why am I buying these? I was reminded - this happens a lot :-) - of the words from a radio journalist (I think Lauren Laverne), who shared a story about her wanting some yoga trousers... or maybe some shoes. Her learning point, if you will, was finding that it wasn't the look she wanted, but the lifestyle. The time to be able to go to that yoga class and to have space between, before going to the next thing. As a busy working mum, I'm guessing she didn't have that luxury.

So it was with the trousers. The idea of dressing for work in such garb is somewhat of a dream. The right troos, cute pumps, and a pretty shirt, plus a bounce in my step. I hesitate to use the word fantasy, because that has iffier connotations, and it's not about that. No, it's the idea of being on the school run or coming to work as me; or, more accurately, having the choice to be all of me at home/work. But, life's not a dream.

Thing is, that choice is there. I can push for it. The real question, perhaps, is what am I am okay to give up in order to get it? Right now, I'm not willing to risk family, my kid's social life, or my career to live that dream. Maybe, just maybe, the Force isn't strong enough in this one. :-)

Or, going back to the yoga lady from Lauren's story, was yoga lady looking to Lauren and wondering if the grass is greener being a busy working mum? Ah, it's all about perspective.

Happy Easter.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, March 23, 2018

Hair raising

Hi,

I was out at Chams last night and we had a visit from the fab Trendco team: Nicola and Steph. TrendCo, in case you don't know, are our friendly neighbourhood wig experts. Chams was fairly busy, so there was a fair bit of interest in the wigs brought in.

For me, a good wig is more than something that works for your face, or your outfit. It becomes, at least for me, a part of my identity. My current do is darker than my natural hair colour. While I've tried lighter colours, I find myself coming back to chestnut colours time and again. I've done long and medium hair, but collar length seems to be working for me. At least, working for me in that I'm comfortable with it and it seems me, if that makes sense.

I did try a few on, but - and as I said - it's as much the cut as it is the colour. While there were some very pretty wigs, they weren't quite me. That or I'm just very fussy. ;-) I did try one lighter number, and I have a habit of closing my eyes as it goes on. Partly to keep the hair out of them and also so once it's fully settled, you get to see it as it could be.

Well.... I did have quite a shock. It seems Steph had (obviously) unknowingly picked out the same style and colour that my Mum wears. It was quite the 'OMG' moment. It was like seeing a younger version of my Dad, only with Mum's current hairstyle. So, no, I don't think I'll be buying that one. :-) As I thought back on it later, it did remind me of those reveal videos, where an actor is made up as a woman, and then when shown their reflection, they react in a similar way.

Still, good fun was had by all, and I did get to wear my new heels from M&S. Yes, I'm middle-class transgender. Mind you, there were both very comfy and with the ribbed sole, easier to walk in that other shoes.

In other news, BBC Radio Nottingham have been featuring some of our members in interviews this week. They've been running a series on what it is to be transgender in Nottingham. UK readers - or those handy with a VPN - can listen to the shows via iPlayer (episodes 19th through to 23rd).

[ BTW, you can hear an actor read my interview here at 1.10 in ]